One of the simplest yet most effective exercises for your backside is the glute bridge, also known as a glute raise. Done on the floor with or without added weight, the glute bridge is a basic exercise that even beginners can add to their workout routine. A no-nonsense move that shapes your glutes and hamstrings, the glute bridge will have your backside looking good in no time.
The glute bridge, if done correctly, mainly targets the glute muscles. When the glutes are not engaged throughout the exercise, however, stress can be felt on the hamstrings. Properly engaging the glutes throughout the entire movement will insure proper glute strengthening. The glute bridge also targets your lower back, and when done on an unstable surface such as on a stability ball, the core is targeted as well.
Basic Glute Bridge
A traditional glute bridge is performed on the floor without any added equipment. To perform, lie on your back with your arms by your sides and your legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Engage your abdominals and press your lower back to the floor. Lift your hips off the floor, using your hands to stabilize yourself. Push your heels into the floor and engage your glutes at the top of the movement. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lower back to the start. To make the traditional glute bridge more advanced, hold a weight plate or a barbell on your hips as you perform the movement. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
A single-leg glute bridge is similar to the traditional glute bridge, however, the use of only one leg at a time also helps to target the core more, as it is needed to stabilize the body. To perform, lie on your back with your hands by your sides and your knees bent with feet flat on the ground. Bring one knee into your chest and hold onto it. To make the move easier, slide the leg that is on the ground closer to your glutes. Engage your core as you do with a basic glute bridge, and slowly push through your heel to raise your hips off the ground. Engage your glutes throughout the movement. Slowly lower back to the ground and switch legs. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
Stability Ball Bridge
The addition of a stability ball to the glute bridge makes the exercise more advanced in every way. The core especially is targeted during the move to keep the body stable and in line. To perform, lie on your back with a stability ball under your calves and heels. Your toes should be pointing up and your legs should be about hip-width apart. Extend your arms out to the sides of your body, with the palms facing down. Engage your core and press your low back into the ground. Press your heels into the ball and use your hands for stability as you lift your hips off the ground. Engage your glutes throughout the movement. After a pause at the top, slowly lower back to the ground. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.